As far as potential lineup combinations go, Sacramento has engineered their roster towards assembling viable depth at each position.
When you consider the primary ball handler options behind young star De’Aaron Fox, there’s Cory Joseph and Yogi Ferrell. With the shooting guards, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic emerge. Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza will supply a fresh atmosphere surrounding the small forward position. The power forward lineup will experience a switch of rotations between Marvin Bagley III and Nemanja Bjelica and Harry Giles is joined by new centers Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes.
There’s 12 solid rotational players that Luke Walton will experiment with and he’ll have a plethora of lineup options.
Possible Starting Lineup: Fox-Hield-Barnes-Bagley-Dedmon
This is the common starting lineup that would make the most sense, with three returning starters as Bagley officially joins the group with Dedmon replacing the hole at center. All five of these players can space the floor and are capable of hitting threes and while Bagley still hasn’t consistently proven it, his long ball certainly progressed to end the season.
Possible Bench Lineup: Joseph-Bogdanovic-Ariza-Bjelica-Giles
Sacramento has a great group of guys that can immediately come off the bench and provide serviceable minutes and despite them not coming into the game all together at first, it’s all-in-all a deep five that can contest with other reserves. Bogdanovic would hold the playmaking responsibilities but Joseph grants him the opportunity to play off-ball and come off screens for looks from three and simply take the pressure away from Bogi handling everything offensively.
Ariza developed quality playmaking abilities last season and although it won’t translate to the same level here, there’s an additional ball mover in the unit. Bjelica’s 40 percent three point shooting usually gets swept beneath the rug but a crucial aspect not to be overlooked. Giles would receive space to work in the interior and if he’s operating in the high post, he has guys in Bogi and Ariza who can come off screens for threes or he can get crafty and find Bjelica too.
Make it Rain: Fox-Hield-Barnes-Bjelica-Dedmon
Only one change from the possible starting lineup here, but Fox seriously benefits from a heavy floor spacing presence. The trio of Hield, Barnes and Bjelica all converted at least 40 percent of threes on the season, Dedmon topped at 38 percent and Fox finished with 37. The better your range is nowadays, the more value you’ll possess and this lineup will be dangerous from anywhere on the court. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of these five together wreaking havoc from beyond the arc.
There’s numerous possibilities with types of lineups the Kings can put on the court and within each type, there’s various players who can be a part of the five as well. In this case, the Kings are displaying their engines on the court - guys who don’t stop hustling. Hield, Joseph and Bagley were all in the top 10 in average defensive speed among players who played more than 25 minutes.
Size is definitely sacrificed with Hield as a 3 but if the experiment fails, you can replace Joseph by bringing in Barnes and sliding Hield down to his best position. The possibilities are endless.
Young Core: Fox-Hield-Barnes-Bagley-Giles
The first thing you may jump about is the exclusion of Bogdanovic but he’s the same age as Barnes and Barnes excels more as a 3 than his Serbian counterpart. This lineup was featured nine times but that number is misleading because of Barnes coming to Sacramento in February and the two bigs dealing with separate injuries, leading them to missed time.
Their net rating came out at +4.5, a solid rating to work on and improve with as this quintet should become a common lineup if health factors pan out correctly (with Giles being that critical wildcard).
Bogi would have to succeed as the lone ball handler in this group, but it does permit Giles to receive additional reps operating in the high post. I like that Ariza and Barnes can interchangeably defend the 2 and 3 positions and Dedmon spreads the floor but can play inside if Giles isn’t occupying that space.
It’s a tall lineup with every player being a mobile threat and there’s no ball stoppers to agonize about.
Small Ball: Fox-Hield-Bogi-Barnes-Bagley
To counter the previous lineup, the Kings have an abundance of players who can all fill in gaps with different small ball styles. Specifically, this five is a young core group integrated into small ball play.
For full disclosure, this particular lineup fared poorly in the 31 minutes they spent together spread across eight games, posting a harsh net rating of -36.9. Depending on matchups and a full season ahead of them, it’s another route to have a different group of the young core out there. Bagley gets to play small ball 5 and all are versatile by guarding multiple positions.
“The Killer B’s”: Bogi-Buddy-Barnes-Bjelica-Bagley
Shoutout to “want2win” for the name idea, but this a pretty solid group and brings the full lineup of B’s to fruition.
The primary concern is having Bogi be the sole ball handler but the three point shooting definitely aids the batch of B’s. I don’t know the likeliness of seeing this lineup play significant minutes or any for that matter, but it’ll surely be fun!
Both Holmes and Dedmon are established pick-and-roll bigs which will benefit the team’s half court offense. The Kings would put out two of their best creators in Fox and Bogi while the two bigs would threaten teams as productive roll men.
Free Throws: Ferrell-Hield-Barnes-Bjelica-Dedmon
The Kings finished the season ranked 27th in free throws and that number can’t be acceptable for a season where the playoffs could be a reality. Oklahoma City made the playoffs as the 28th ranked team but Sacramento climbed the ladder correctly by signing players who have better percentages than the team’s 72.6 rate.
Fox’s exclusion comes at the price of his free throw rate being just 0.1 percentage points higher than the team’s average. He’s one of the better foul drawers on the squad but he must elevate to consistency, but Ferrell’s low volume yet great 89.6 rate gets the nod for now.
Similar to Fox, Bagley could get to the stripe with regularity but displayed a 69.1 rate and that gets topped by Bjelica and Holmes. Bagley and Fox improving their free throw rates would be tremendously underrated for the squad. Dedmon’s 81.4 percent rate is miles better than the 55.1 percent Willie Cauley-Stein took with him, so that’s a substantial improvement.
I thought long and hard about this one but it ultimately comes down to matchups and who is playing well. This argument can apply to any other lineup but I find an exception here. The starting lineup itself can be a closing lineup or you can substitute Dedmon for Bogi and have a small ball lineup. You could also run the young core lineup that includes Giles or one that involves Joseph’s defensive intensity.
Whatever the scenario may be, the Kings find themselves in a unique situation. There’s so much versatility among the roster and they have to leverage that to their advantage no matter what the lineup may be.